It wasn’t until early in the eighth grade when I started playing volleyball for my local club. Little did I know, a decade later volleyball would become one of the biggest parts of my everyday life.
Throughout my 10 years of being involved in athletics I have come to learn and understand how much sport has to offer young athletes. As well as how much volleyball shaped my own life.
Two of my three older sisters played volleyball at Redeemer University College. It was by watching them throughout their time at Redeemer that I came to realize that this is where I wanted to continue my volleyball career after high school, from 2011 – 2016. Walking into the Redeemer gym, and anticipating the crowd of people that would form for each and every game day is still one of my favourite aspects of sports.It is something that opposing athlete’s even look forward to. The atmosphere and the community is simply hard to beat.
The dancers gather in a circle on the floor and rise as one like a flower blooming. Without even looking at each other, the girls synchronously do battements, standing on one leg while extending the other leg behind their bodies, spinning cobwebs with their moves to Amber Run’s haunting I Found.
For Seneca both team captain Nicole MacIsaac and coach Kalene Corcoran point to the time their team invests in dance. They rehearse at the York campus for six hours every Saturday and for three hours every Tuesday.
“The more we work together, the more it comes together,” Corcoran says.
During one of their marathon Saturday rehearsals the team was working on different choreographies for dance competitions, volleyball and basketball halftime performances in spring. MacIsaac says that the strong relationships between her dancers make even a long rehearsal enjoyable.
“Once you’ve built that relationship, you feed off each others’ energy and then together you work as a team.”
When it comes to exercise and working out our bodies, options can go from heavy machinery to load-handling inexpensive barbells. Regardless if you are an elite athlete or a beginner in fitness, the benefits of barbells is that they allow small increases in weight based on the level of comfort and training goals.
Wayne Boucher, Fitness and wellness coordinator at Algonquin College says that “(with barbells) you are not limited to the range of motion of a machine, for example. It activates the body, psychically and mentally is very stimulating.”
In sports, records and streaks are king. Emphasis is placed on the number of wins. A team’s true success is measured in time and numbers. Years and seconds can lead to immortality and fame. One could easily compare wins, but every coach loses. So, what makes a good coach…good?
Judy Goss, a Mental Performance Consultant who works with coaches and athletes, believes that good habits can lay the groundwork for successful athletes.
“There are many habits that a coach can adopt to get the most out of their players. They are first and foremost a role model, so when they arrive early, they are prepared, bring energy and positive attitude – this sets a tone with their athletes,” says Goss.
The final year. The final season. One last time for the athlete to make or break. Statistics aside the year can be full of gripping moments. One soccer season could hold ten matches for a team. Ten times an athlete takes to the field or court. Ten times to fight for a win. Ten chances to come toe to toe to possible injuries.
“I just remember dropping and screaming in pain,” says Ali Palmer.
Injuries can turn any career upside down.
Palmer was the sweeper for the women’s soccer team at Sheridan for two years from 2013 - ‘15. Her position as the sweeper forces her mostly to defend her net by “sweeping away” any moves that passes other defenders. Having played since the age of nine she was familiar with the balancing act of training, study and games.
Lucia Kalmeyer, a volleyball player at Durham College, suffers from anxiety and depression, and says that being a student-athlete takes a toll on her, and it isn’t something that she would recommend for everyone.
“I think a lot of people underestimate what it takes to be a student-athlete because not only are you worrying about your sport and school. Sometimes other people have jobs that they have to take into account – trying to find a common ground can be hard sometimes,” says Kalmeyer.
Having problems with your mental health can push you to act in indescribable ways.
Many students feel stressed juggling school work, a part-time job and their everyday social lives.
There have been moments where former Humber student, Cece Girma, would have a full-blown breakdown over things she couldn’t control.
Sport is a fluid, dynamic phenomenon. One moment is spent in defensive gear and in a split second the gear changes and the team shifts to their attack. A team member who excels in playmaking can often find themselves engaging in solo goal attempts.
From this acknowledgement of changeability, it is very difficult to confine the elements of a sporting event to objective criteria. This description and essential nature applies equally to the game in motion and the game on paper.
“Three years ago I tore my ACL at a game at Humber playing against Fanshawe, it was, I think, in the third quarter. I did a move, a step back to get the shot off before the shot clock went off and I landed on a girl’s foot. I stepped on her foot while I was pushing off so I was off balance and all I heard was a pop in my knee as that happened I went down grabbing my knee crying, screaming. It was the worst pain I’ve ever felt.”
Ceejay Nofuente is a point guard on the Humber College women’s basketball team and she shares with sweat what she calls her most challenging experience she has overcome in basketball. This year she says she has come back stronger than ever. Nofuente has recently been making a buzz in the OCAA by breaking records and holding titles including all-time leading scorer at Humber, most points scored, the most three-pointers and two time championship MVP.
“I didn’t think I would play basketball again or overcome that injury,” Nofuente says about her rookie year injury. “But then getting a surgery date quickly and with the help of therapy and support from our strength and conditioning staff I was able to come back within less than a year after my surgery and just be a better player mentally and physically.”